Since the days of gray scale LCD screens on PDAs, the stylus has been the invaluable tool which allowed you to precisely navigate the small screen. With killer applications like the venerable PhatWare Calligrapher, which converts hand writing to text, you can use the stylus to mimic the analog world of pen and paper. Along, with integration of cell phone technology, the hope of a converged hand held device for your mobile life was starting to become a reality. As cellular data and push email where implemented, the world was starting to be at one’s stylus tip. Microsoft along with Palm were visionaries in understanding that the success of this new world was tied to the innovation of third party applications and there again the stylus played a key role in providing an easy way to access application functionality. Although, Research In Motion has proved, with its thumb keyboard, that not everyone was or is a stylus devotee. However without the stylus the BlackBerry never became an multi faceted application device. The Windows Mobile vendors adjusted quickly to that fact and offer the best of both worlds with physical keyboards and/or styli support.
Four years ago, Apple threw a monkey wrench into the device design paradigm by introducing the iPhone, a device with no stylus or physical keyboard. Google Android has followed suit by providing a finger friendly OS which does not require a stylus but does allow for form factors with physical keyboards like the Motorola Droid. On the Windows Mobile front the HTC HD2 is the first device, that I know of, that does not ship with a stylus. As we slowly move towards Windows Mobile 7, will the stylus become extinct? With the talk of capacitive styli (HTC HD2 stylus) for the new breed of touch sensitive screens, designers seem to be on the fence and if a majority of users are not clamoring for a stylus, over the next couple of years the stylus could become instinct.
What are your thoughts, do you use a stylus or do you prefer your finger?